Joe Biden has approved sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a significant escalation in the US effort to counter Russian aggression as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront falls away.
The reversal of the US’s previous position came after Germany confirmed it will make 14 of its Leopard 2A6 tanks available for Ukraine’s war effort, and give partner countries its permission to re-export other battle tanks to aid Kyiv.
By agreeing to send the Abrams, the US is able to meet the demand of the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for an American commitment but without having to send the tanks immediately.
“Putin expected Europe and the United States to weaken our resolve,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. “He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble with time. He was wrong. He was wrong. He was wrong from the beginning and he continues to be wrong.”
Biden added: “We remain united and determined as ever in our conviction and our cause. These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine and our confidence in the skill of the Ukrainian forces.”
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy applauded Biden for the “powerful decision to provide Abrams,” declaring on Twitter that “the free world is united as never before”.